Ballet Kelowna Closes Season with Cinematic Double Bill – Transformations

Ballet Kelowna Closes Season with Cinematic Double Bill – Transformations

Ballet Kelowna brings its 20th anniversary season to a triumphant end with the dynamic double bill, Transformations, at the Kelowna Community Theatre, May 5 + 6, 2023 at 7:30pm. 

The presentation features commissions from two of Canada’s most innovative emerging choreographers, including the in-person premiere of Disembark by Kirsten Wicklund – first presented during Ballet Kelowna’s 2020/21 virtual season – and the world premiere of the evening-length work, The Cowboy Act, by the Company’s 2022/23 Artist in Residence, Cameron Fraser-Monroe.

“We are thrilled to bring this vibrant double bill to Kelowna audiences this spring,” says Simone Orlando, Artistic Director and CEO of Ballet Kelowna. “Kirsten’s work will pull audiences beyond the refined physicality of classical ballet into a powerful interpretation of embodied emotion, while Cameron combines traditional Indigenous dance and culture, narrative-based satire, and a lot of lighthearted humour, to bring his choreographic vision to the stage. We are grateful that through these Ballet Kelowna commissions, both Kirsten and Cameron are able to bring their unique worldviews to the creation of these transformational works that reimagine the art form.”

Artists of Ballet Kelowna in Cameron Fraser-Monroe’s The Cowboy Act. Photo by
Abigail Wiens.

The evening’s program opens with the in-person premiere of Disembark from Kirsten Wicklund, performed in front of a live audience for the first time. Developed in response to the global pandemic and reflecting on a world disrupted, Wicklund’s work is a layered study of contrasts – moving beyond physical form to the complex emotions that lie within the body. Set to a sweeping score of Beethoven, the dramatic intensity of Disembark is further amplified by cinematic lighting, which creates an otherworldly atmosphere to highlight Wicklund’s expansive movement.Classically trained in Vancouver at Pacific Dance Arts and Goh Ballet Academy, Wicklund is a former dancer with Ballet BC and has been a demi-soloist with Antwerp’s Opera Ballet Vlaanderen since 2021. A rising choreographic talent, Wicklund has choreographed works for Arts Umbrella, Goh Ballet, and Dancing on the Edge Festival.

The evening’s double bill will conclude with the world premiere of The Cowboy Act – the final work in a series of three commissions by Ballet Kelowna’s first-ever Artist in Residence, Cameron Fraser-Monroe. In this evening-length (55 minutes) work featuring Ballet Kelowna’s full company of 12 dancers, Fraser-Monroe explores the dichotomy between the ‘Cowboy’ and ‘Indian’ archetypes in a satirical romp through the Wild West. Flipping the script on the classic narrative penned from a colonial perspective for books, stages and films, Fraser-Monroe examines what happens when an Indian directs the Cowboys through their history.

Set on the Western Frontier, a visiting Indigenous Photographer, performed by McKeely Borger of the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan, stumbles upon an unkempt group of cowboys and cowgirls, in search of the iconic “real” cowboy of lore. With the help of The Sheriff, performed by Desiree Bortolussi, the photographer continues her quest to capture the perfect cowboy, through a series of vignettes touching on identity, love, boredom, and empowerment.

Choreographed to the rumbling baritone of Mohawk singer/songwriter Tom Wilson and with the help of a fully staged chuck wagon that fittingly transforms into a bar, ram, mine, and drum, designed by Dave Brotsky, Fraser-Monroe creatively and humorously brings these caricatures to life, in a tongue-in-cheek critique of the generational impact of Canada’s oppressive Indian Act.Additional notable performances include The Deputy by Donaldo Nava and The Roper by Seiji Suzuki.A member of the Tla’amin First Nation and graduate of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, Fraser-Monroe has received commissions from Ballet Kelowna, The National Ballet of Canada, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Winnipeg Summer Dance Collective, Artist’s Climate Collective, Transformation Cabaret at the Cultch, and both PULSE and Indigenous Day Live! on APTN. He continues to practice and present Hoop Dance.To celebrate Fraser-Monroe’s Western-themed world premiere and the close of Ballet Kelowna’s 20th anniversary season, audiences are encouraged to dress to impress in their best Western wear, including cowboy boots, hats, jeans, fringed shirts, equestrian-themed prints, and more!
Tickets and information at

Ballet Kelowna wishes to thank Leadership Giving Donor Patricia Ainslie for her generous support of The Cowboy Act.Ballet Kelowna’s 2022/2023 season is presented by the Thomas Alan Budd Foundation.


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